Under and over-parenting



Easter Sunday may seem an age away after a week of Easter holidays, but it is remembered clearly in our house. Only son had woken up at around 6am and exclaimed loudly and excitedly to some slightly less excited teenagers that the Easter Bunny had brought Haribo and then crashed out on a sugar high in our bed. At around 10.30am my partner switched on the tv to watch some news. Only son didn’t even raise his head. “What are you doing, dad? It is morning time and you are going on a screen while your wife is trying to get some sleep. That is ridiculous.” It has to be said that only son is rather partial to a screen himself. Especially when it involves Geometry Dash.

Only son is what you might call under and overparented. His actual parents are fairly laid back most of the time, but his sibling parents adopt an approach that varies between extreme disinterest and extreme hectoring on issues relating to diet and activities. Daughter one is leader of the pack and has had long talks with him about sugar which have resulted in only son quoting the sugar content of various drinks to justify him having them, eg “I would like white grape-flavoured fizzy water with 0.2% sugar, mum.” Daughter one’s position is rather undermined by the fact that she is now in revision purdah and only emerges from time to time to plead for a sugar injection to get her through the rest of the day, with vegan doughnuts from the Co-op being the sugar of choice. Unfortunately, they seem to be in short supply. Her argument is that she is bigger than only son so has a higher daily sugar quota. I’m not sure only son understands such subtleties.

Daughter two is the moral conscience of the family and everyone feels slightly less healthy when she is around, even if they are eating seeds and nuts. Having said previously that she wants to be an actress or a film director when she grows up, she has now settled on “activist”.  Daughter two is forever telling only son that he is not healthy. However, while only son spends much of the day dancing, playing football and going swimming, daughter two barely ventures 10 feet from her room during the holidays. She was spotted tea-bagging a rug over the weekend. I think she got the idea when only son and I were creating a pirate treasure map recently. She also has plans to do a painting on her ceiling.

Daughter three is the least imposing of the siblings. Her focus has been on devising ways to earn money. She has been researching it on the internet and has come up with all manner of dodgy-looking things. She has also been looking through her clothes in an effort to sell them on e-bay. I suggested she stick to chores. So far she has completely rearranged her and only son’s room and tidied all the shoes in the house. True to form, daughter three, who is renowned for her organisational skills, has created a colour-coded money tracker chart.

Currently I am trying to address a rather big divergence in holiday outings between daughters two and three. Daughter two wants to spend the holidays communing with nature – in a forest or meadow. Daughter three wants to go to Oxford Street…

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.

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